Northwestern’s Soul4Real performs at White House, privately serenades Obamas

Amanda Svachula, Reporter


President Barack Obama has once again reinforced the fact that Northwestern is his Big Ten team. NU’s premiere African-American a cappella group Soul4Real, which specializes in R&B, soul and hip hop music, performed at a holiday party at the White House on Dec. 12. Group member Emily Tross, a Medill sophomore, gave The Daily an inside look at the organization’s experience.

How did you get invited to perform at the White House in the first place?

We’re not really sure how it happened. We know it’s the type of thing where you’re supposed to apply. We believe someone nominated us, but we still haven’t figured out who. We received an email maybe like a week before Thanksgiving. At that point we didn’t know any Christmas music and we weren’t sure the email was real.

What was the event for?

It was a private holiday party that the president and his wife were hosting. At each of the parties they host, they have a different group perform. During the summer they accept applications from different groups. Somewhere around 4,000 groups apply and they narrow it down to the best choices. Who ends up there is based on scheduling and we were lucky enough to end up there.

How did you prepare for the performance?

We had two or three weeks to learn Christmas music. Normal rehearsals are usually an hour and a half but we extended them to three or four hours. Towards the end we were practicing until 12 or 1 in the morning.

How long was the performance?

We were at the White House a total of five hours. We sang two sets while guests were arriving and leaving. They were each about an hour. We were stationed by the entrances and exits.

Were you able to sing for President Obama and the First Lady?

We were given 45 seconds to sing to them privately in a room. We sang “Silent Night.” We each individually shook their hands and got to take a picture with them.

What was your favorite moment?

My favorite moment was shaking the President’s and Mrs. Obama’s hands. They’re so tall and beautiful. Her dress was obviously gorgeous. When they first came into the room, (President) Obama’s first line was, “What’s up homies from Chicago?” We were all fangirling so hard, trying not to scream.

When is your next performance?

We’re performing Monday, Jan. 19, on Martin Luther King Day, at the vigil that Northwestern is holding. We don’t have a winter concert but we do have a spring concert. We usually do little performances throughout the year when we’re asked.

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